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Keywords:

  • stress testing;
  • risk management;
  • correlation;
  • normal variance mixture distribution;
  • multivariate normal distribution;
  • multivariate t-distribution

We investigate correlations of asset returns in stress scenarios where a common risk factor is truncated. Our analysis is performed in the class of normal variance mixture (NVM) models, which encompasses many distributions commonly used in financial modeling. For the special cases of jointly normally and t-distributed asset returns we derive closed formulas for the correlation under stress. For the NVM distribution, we calculate the asymptotic limit of the correlation under stress, which depends on whether the variables are in the maximum domain of attraction of the Fréchet or Gumbel distribution. It turns out that correlations in heavy-tailed NVM models are less sensitive to stress than in medium- or light-tailed models. Our analysis sheds light on the suitability of this model class to serve as a quantitative framework for stress testing, and as such provides valuable information for risk and capital management in financial institutions, where NVM models are frequently used for assessing capital adequacy. We also demonstrate how our results can be applied for more prudent stress testing.